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  Section: Edible Plant Species
 
 
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Edible Plant Species

 
     
 
Smilacina racemosa Desf. Liliaceae. FALSE SPIKENARD. TREACLE-BERRY.
Siberia and northeast North America.
The berries are pale red, speckled with purple and are aromatic. Wood mentions this among edible wild fruits. Josselyn says it is called "treacle-berries, having the perfect taste of treacle when they are ripe - and will keep good for a long while. Certainly a very wholesome berry and medicinal."


Smilax china Linn. Liliaceae (Smilacaceae). CHINA-ROOT.
China, Cochin China and Japan.
The rootstocks are eaten by the Chinese on account of the abundance of the starch.


S. glyciphylla Sm. SARSAPARILLA. SWEET TEA PLANT.
Australia.
The leaves are used as tea.


S. laurifolia Linn.
Southeastern United States.
The young shoots are eaten as asparagus in the southern states. The roots were used by the Indians to obtain a fecula for food.


S. pseudo-china Linn.
New Jersey to Kentucky and southward.
The Indians of Carolina boiled and ate the root. The Seminoles of Florida obtained their red meal from the root. The young shoots are used as an asparagus in the southern states and the roots were used by the Confederate soldiers in the manufacture of an extemporaneous beer.


S. rotundifolia Linn. GREEN BRIAR.
Pennsylvania to Kentucky and southward.
Griffith says the fecula obtained from the root was employed by the Indians as a meal.


S. tamnoides Linn.
New Jersey, Virginia and southward.
The fecula of the root is used as a meal by the Indians.


Smyrnium olus-atrum Linn. Umbelliferae. ALEXANDERS. HORSE PARSLEY.
Europe and the adjoining portion of Asia; formerly much cultivated.
Alexanders was mentioned by Dioscorides, and, in the time of Gerarde, the root was sent to the table raw as a salad herb. In the United States, it is mentioned by McMahon, 1806, as used for culinary purposes as cardoon and blanched in like manner, but it does not appear in his general list of kitchen-garden esculents. The young shoots and leafstalks are the part eaten; they have, when raw, a rather agreeable taste, not very unlike that of celery, though more pungent; they are likewise used to flavor soups and stews and are still so employed in England by the country people. The stalks are blanched in the manner of celery. This vegetable was formerly much esteemed in Italy. The name alexanders is said to be a corruption of Olusatrum, but Ray says it is called so either because it came from the Egyptian city of that name or it was so believed. The Italian name macerone is believed by Ray to have been corruptly derived from Macedonia but a more probable origin is from maceria, the Italian for wall, as Columella says, Pastinato loco semine debet conseri maxime juxta maceriam. In this umbellifer, as De Candolle remarks, we can follow the plant from the beginning to the end of its culture. Theophrastus, who flourished about 322 B. C., speaks of alexanders as an officinal plant, under the name of hipposelinon. Dioscorides, who lived in the first century after Christ, speaks of the edible properties of the roots and leaves, while Colurnella and Pliny, authors of the same century, speak of its cultivation. Galen, in the second century, classes it among edibles, and Apicius, in the third century, gives a recipe for its preparation for the table. Charlemagne, who died A. D. 814, included this vegetable among those ordered to be planted on his estates. Ruellius's edition of Dioscorides, 1529, does not speak of its culture, nor does Leonicenus, 1529; but Fuchsius, 1542, says it is planted in gardens. Tragus, 1552, received seed from a friend, so it was apparently not generally grown in his part of Germany at this date. Matthiolus, in his Commentaries, 1558, refers to its edible qualities. Pena and Lobel, 1570, say in England it occurs abundantly in gardens and that the cultivated form is far better than the wild plant. Camerarius, 1586, says, "in hortis seritur." Gerarde, 1597, does not speak of its culture but says, groweth in most places of England, but in his edition of 1630 says, "The root hereof is also in our age served to the table raw for a sallade herbe. Dodonaeus, 1616, refers to its culture in the gardens of" Belgium, and Bodaeus a Stapel, in his edition of Theophrastus, 1644, says it is much approved in salads and is cultivated as a vegetable. Le Jardinier Solitaire, 1612, mentions the culture of celery, but not that of alexanders, in French gardens. Quintyne, in the English edition of his Complete Gard'ner, 1704, says "it is one of the furnitures of our wintersallads, which must be whitened like our wild Endive or Succory." In 1726, Townsend, in his Complete Seedsman, refers to the manner of use, but adds, " 'tis but in few gardens." Mawe's Gardener, 1778, refers to this vegetable, but it is apparently in minor use at this time; yet Varlo, in his Husbandry, 1785, gives directions for continuous sowing of the seed in order to secure a more continuous supply. McMahon, in his American Gardeners' Kalendar, 1806, includes this vegetable in his descriptions but not in his general list of kitchen garden esculents; it is likewise enumerated by later American writers and is included by Burr, 1863, among garden vegetables, a survival of mention apparently not indicating use; and Vilmorin, in his Les Plantes Potageres, 1883, gives a heading and a few lines to maceron. Its seed is not now advertised in our catalogs.


S. perfoliatum Linn. ALEXANDERS.
Southern Europe.
This form of alexanders is thought by some to be superior to S. olus-atrum. This species is perhaps confounded with S. olus-atrum in some of the references already given. London says it was formerly cultivated, and McIntosh says it is thought by many superior to S. olus-atrum, a remark which Burr includes in his description. Although the species is separated by a number of the older botanists, yet Ruellius, 1529, is the only one who refers to its edible qualities. This plant, which De Candolle says has been under common culture for fifteen centuries, has shown no change of type during that time. The figures, which occur in so many of the herbals, all show the same type of plant, irrespective of the source from which the illustration may have been taken, unless perhaps the root is drawn rather more enlarged in some cases than in others.
 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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